Why You Should Use QuickBooks’ Snapshots

Why You Should Use QuickBooks’ Snapshots
 QuickBooks provides multiple ways to get information about your customers, their payments, and your company itself. The software’s Snapshots provide quick, thorough overviews.
 What do you do when you need to get information in QuickBooks about customers or about payments they’ve made in QuickBooks? You have several options. You could, for example:
  • Create a report
  • Go to their Customer pages
  • Click on Receive Payments on the Home Page and use the Find arrows (not very elegant or fast, but would be an easy way to find recent payments).
One of QuickBooks’ strengths is its flexibility. It helps you find the exact information you’re looking for in a variety of ways.  Which one you choose at any given time depends on what screen you’re working on at the moment and precisely what slice of data you need.
 A Home Base
 The desktop version of QuickBooks doesn’t have a “dashboard,” like web-based financial applications do. Dashboards are like home pages on steroids. Rather than just providing navigational tools and menus, Snapshots display charts and grids and lists representing the data that you’d most likely want to see when you first log on, like account balances, summaries of income and expenses, and high-priority tasks, with links to related activity screens. You can usually customize these.
 
QuickBooks’ Reminders tell you what needs to be done either today or very soon. But they don’t reveal anything about your financial status. Snapshots do. There are three versions: Company, Payments, and Customer
 Figure 1: The QuickBooks Customer Snapshot sums up each customer’s activity and history in a one-page view.
 
Many Sections 
Let’s look at the Customer Snapshot to see how these work. To find it, click on Snapshots in the left vertical navigation pane. When the window opens, make sure that the Customer tab is active; if not, click on it. Click on the arrow next to the CUSTOMER field in the center of the very top to select a customer.
 
You’ll see three columns of information here. The left pane displays some commonly sought numbers (like Total Sales) and some numbers that you might have trouble finding any other way (Average days to pay, etc.). In the middle, you’ll see Recent Invoices and Recent Payments. And the right section (not shown in the screen shot) includes two customizable graphs, Sales History and Best Selling Items.
 
This is the default layout, the information boxes you’ll see when you first open the Company Snapshot. To remove any of them, click on the X in the upper right corner. You can restore them at any time by clicking the arrow next to Add Content in the upper left and then clicking the +Add button next to the one you want.
 
You can also move the blocks into different positions on the page. Grab one by clicking on its header and holding it, dragging it to the preferred position, and releasing it.
 
Personalized Pages
Figure 2: You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in the Customer Snapshot.
 
Users who have been assigned access to the data that each Snapshot contains can customize their own views by adding or deleting sections and rearranging them. So each employee can have his or her own unique-looking Snapshots, though the real-time data in all of them will be the same.
Note: If you’ve given employees besides yourself access to QuickBooks, it’s important that you assign permission levels to them. You probably don’t want everyone to be able to see and modify everything in your file. We can help you set these up. 
Other Snapshots 
The other two Snapshots are more complex, containing more data options. They can, however, be customized in the same ways that you personalized the Customer screen. The Payments Snapshot can give you a quick update on things like Recent Transactions and A/R by Aging Period.
 
The Company Snapshot lets you display up to 12 lists and charts, including:
  • Account Balances
  • Customers Who Owe Money,
  • Expense Breakdown, and,
  • Vendors to Pay.
This would be a good page to use as your dashboard (home page), especially since it can also show you your Reminders. With the Company Snapshot open, go to Edit | Preferences | Desktop View | My Preferences and click on the button in front of Save current desktop. Remove the checkmark in front of Show Home page when opening company file if one is there.
 
QuickBooks’ Snapshots can get you up to speed quickly on critical elements of your accounting file, but there are other reports that you should run regularly, including complex standard financials reports that require expert analysis. We can help you interpret these, which in turn will help you make smarter, more informed business decisions.

Does Your Accounting Department Have Holes in It?

April 2, 2015 · Posted in Accounting, Business Development · Comment 

Does Your Accounting Department Have Holes in It?

You’ve got someone to do your federal and state income tax returns, and you have a bookkeeper. So that’s all that a small business needs when it comes to having an accounting department, right?

Wrong.

Large companies have many functions in their accounting departments, and small and mid-sized businesses need many of the same functions as well. They just won’t need as many staff to handle them. Many of these functions will fall on the CEO, but a smart CEO will find a way to delegate some of the accounting duties to free their time up.

Here are just a few of the things you’ll want to make sure that you have covered in your small business accounting department:

Accounting Software Expertise

Who do you have on your team that can identify opportunities for making your accounting function run more efficiently? The solutions could include training on your current system or could be more comprehensive such as identifying a new accounting system that will save a tremendous amount of time and money.

Let your accountant get to know your processes because they may know of some software applications that can do what you need faster, better, and cheaper. Manual data entry is a hot spot of potential; today, you can find software, scanners, and even smartphones and tablets that can automate the data entry, even if all you have is paperwork to enter.

Business Performance Advice

Are you getting accounting reports that tie to the areas where you have challenges and issues? If not, let your accountant know where those areas are. They may be able to suggest some reports that will provide you with insight and enlightenment.

If you are receiving reports with lots of numbers that you’re not quite sure how to interpret, ask your accountant for help. They can not only help you interpret the numbers, but they can also put the report into a graphical format so that it’s more visual for you.

It’s All About the Revenue

The number one challenge of most small businesses is to attract more business and generate more revenue. Your accountant can help you study your revenue patterns by presenting “what if” tools that can help you see what happens when you change price, impact mix, or adjust volume.

Keeping the Cash Flowing

If your business seems to stampede through cash, you’re not alone. A cash flow forecasting report is in order so you can plan ahead and be ready for the valleys and hills.

Beyond Compliance

If your accounting department focuses on compliance work alone, such as taxes and recordkeeping, you’ll miss out on allowing it to become a profit center of sorts. With these added functions, you’ll discover new actions to take in your business to drive profitability. You’ll have clarity about decisions like price changes, and you’ll know your accounting function is efficient and not wasting time and money.

Take a look at your accounting department, and let us know if we can help you plug any of the holes.


Influencing Your Word-of-Mouth Results

March 5, 2015 · Posted in Business Development, Profitability Tips · Comment 

Just about every business relies on “word-of-mouth” marketing to get the vast majority of its clients. If this is true for your business, then it just makes sense to figure out how to boost your referrals from all sources. Referrals are almost always easier to sell and they keep your marketing costs low. But how can you do that?

The first step is to make sure that you know who your best current referral sources are. If you’re not already asking the question to new clients “How did you find out about us?” then I’d recommend you implement that right away.

If you do know the answer to that question for each customer, then you can make a list of your referral sources. Take a look at the list, and see what these referral sources have in common. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are they all customers?
  • Do they all have a profession in common? For example, are they all lawyers, massage therapists, plumbers, or pediatricians?
  • Have you properly thanked each of these individuals? If not, you can send out a thank you card or take them to lunch with no other agenda.

The last question to ask yourself is “where can you find more of the same type of people that are referring you?” If you discovered that you get a lot of business from dog groomers, then you may want to consider visiting every grooming salon in your zip code. You may also want to present a speech to a dog groomers Meetup group that you find.

You really can be proactive about your referrals so that business comes to you more easily. Try these tips to boost your referral sources in your business.


The One Question to Ask Each Day

February 5, 2015 · Posted in Business Development, Decision-Making Tips · Comment 

As a business owner, you’re likely torn in a hundred different directions every day. It can take up most of the work day just fighting fires, serving your customers, and answering employees’ questions. It’s super-easy to lose sight of what you can be doing to move your business forward the most.

That’s when “the one question” can come in handy. It’s something you can ask yourself at the very beginning of each day, even before you check your email.

The one question is, “What’s the highest payback thing I can do today that will boost my profits?”

It’s not fighting fires or answering routine employee questions or even serving current customers. Although those are all important and essential, none of them will take your business to the next level.

It could be meeting with a power partner or referral source that sends you a lot of business, designing the next campaign that will bring in a higher level customer, or researching new products to sell. It’s going to be a task that gets you working “on” your business instead of “in” it.

If you like this idea, consider writing the question on a sticky note and posting it to your bulletin board so that you can see it every day.

Try asking yourself this one question each day: “What’s the highest payback thing I can do today that will boost my profits?” Then do it, and watch your business grow.


Planning for a Fabulous 2015

December 24, 2014 · Posted in Business Development, Business Tips · Comment 

The holiday month of December brings celebration as well as reflection for all the events that occurred in 2014.  It also gives us great hope for a new fabulous start in 2015.  Here are three ideas to start 2015 with a bang.

  1. Find a focus for the year.

    Instead of getting into the rut of making and breaking resolutions, consider having a focus for the entire year.  Choose your focus from among things like:

    • Developing a department in your business, such as your sales, marketing, operations, HR, admin, or another.  The focus will be on building or expanding the department you’ve chosen to work on.
    • Changing your company culture to a trait or aspect you want to be known for.  Developing the trait will be your focus.
    • Building a relationship with an individual or a group of people related to your business.  The relationships are the focus.

  2. Live by a theme for 2015.

    Your theme could be an emotion or expression such as gratitude or compassion.  It could be a color – purple – just for fun.  You might adopt a favorite quote or religious verse or even song.  Your goal for the year will be to embody your theme and/or bring it into other’s lives as well.

  3. Do the one big thing.

    Are you holding back on a huge dream for yourself?  Then take steps in 2015 to move closer to it.  Make 2015 your year to do the one big thing that’s been weighing heavily on your mind.  Just think how you’d feel if you finally did it; your life would be forever altered.

Happy 2015Write your focus, your theme, or your one big thing on dozens of sticky notes, and plaster them everywhere.  Mark your calendar and to do list with reminders and milestone checks.  Make art out of your sticky notes, and post them on the refrigerator door and your office walls.  That way, the reminder will be physically with you all year.

We wish you a happy and healthy new year to you and yours.

What Is Real-Time Accounting (and Why Should You Care)?

November 13, 2014 · Posted in Accounting, Business Development · Comment 

Real-time accounting is when your books are caught up to the present and you know exactly where you stand with your account balances, revenue, and profit.  It’s truly doing your accounting in real time.

The opposite of real-time accounting is getting your books done once a year (or worse, being years behind).  When you wait to do your books once a year, say at tax time, you lose the power of being able to monetize opportunities in real time.   Some examples are realizing your prices are too low and your profit margins need adjustment, seeing what’s selling well and restocking sooner than later, or discovering a worker is not productive based on your pay rates and prices.

Today’s cloud accounting systems and bank feeds allow you the potential for real-time accounting, where the benefits include:

  • Better cash flow management
  • Faster correction of pricing, hiring, stocking, and margin mistakes, saving money and increasing profits faster
  • Faster identification of any tax liabilities as well as the ability to reduce or eliminate penalties from paying late or underestimating taxes due
  • Ability to see whether you are making a profit or a loss
  • Potential to catch fraud or identity theft much faster if you become a victim
  • Lower accounting costs when errors snowball over time
  • More peace of mind
  • Ability to be more proactive in your business management, capitalizing on opportunities that show themselves in the numbers

Consider moving to real-time accounting if you haven’t already.  For example, if your books are done annually, moving to quarterly or monthly services will begin to provide the advantages listed above.

How Understanding Assets vs. Expenses Can Make You Rich

Assets and expenses both have a “debit” balance on the financial statements, but that’s where their similarities end. Spending on one can make you rich and spending too much on the other can leave you broke.

An expense is money you may need to spend, but after a year, there is nothing lasting to show for it. An asset is a tangible resource that is still worth something after a year or more and that belongs to you or your business. The best assets grow in value over time, but some lose their value too. Real estate typically goes up in value, while a car loses value, or depreciates heavily, in its first few years.

The best example of an asset versus an expense is spending on a mortgage versus rent. When you pay a mortgage, you own more of the property than you did last month. One day, you can sell your ownership in the property and get cash or another asset in trade. When you pay rent, there’s nothing left at the end of the month. There’s no accumulated value.

Generally speaking, spending on an asset builds or at least better preserves your wealth. Spending on an expense drains your worth because you don’t own anything at the end.

The path to building your wealth is to spend on assets when you have a choice and minimize expenses when you can.

In the book “The Millionaire Next Door,” one of the top examples to build wealth is to avoid replacing your car as long as you dare. It used to be a habit for some families to replace their car every two years. With today’s reliable models, you can go between five to ten years without having to replace your car. Although a car lasts more than a year and is considered an asset, it still loses value every year.

Investing in assets and reducing expenses will build your business’s net worth and increase profits. Look for ways you can apply this to your business and watch your money grow. As always, reach out if you’d like to know more.

Is There an App for That?

September 4, 2014 · Posted in Business Development, Time Management Tips · Comment 

The technology side of the accounting industry is rapidly changing and expanding.  Literally hundreds, if not thousands of new companies and new software applications have sprung up to help small businesses automate their processes and save time and money.

The best way to profit from all of this innovation is to first identify where you can best use the technology in your business.  Here are three places to look:

1.     Paper Chase

What business tasks are you still using pen and paper for?   Look what’s on your desk or in your filing cabinet in the form of paper, and that will be your next opportunity for automation.  For example, are you still hand-writing checks?   There’s an app (or two) for that.

Sticky notes and to do lists have been replaced with Evernote.  Business cards you collect can go in a CRM (customer relationship manager).  All of your accounting invoices and bills can be digitized and stored online.

Make a list of all the manual and paper processes you do every day and look for an app that can make the task faster for you.

2.     Fill the Gap

Take stock of what systems you already have in place.  The opportunity to fill the gap is where you might have systems that should talk to each other but don’t.  If you need to enter data into two different places, there may be a chance to automate and/or integrate the systems or data.  For example, your point of sale or billing system should integrate well with your accounting system.  A few other examples include accounting and payroll, CRM and accounting, inventory and accounting, project management and time tracking, and time tracking and payroll.

The more your systems integrate and work as a suite, the better.

3.     Mismatched

It could be you have your systems automated, but the systems are not the best choice for your business requirements.  If your systems don’t meet many of your business requirements, it may be time to look for an upgrade or a replacement.

If you are performing a lot of data manipulation in Excel or Access, this might also signal that your systems are falling short of your current needs.  Look where that’s happening, and you will have identified an opportunity for improvement.

Look in these three areas in your business, and I bet you’ll not only find an app for that, you’ll also find some freed up time and money once you automate.

Shortcut Your Management Time with Exception Reporting

August 21, 2014 · Posted in Business Development, Time Management Tips · Comment 

Do you spend a lot of time reviewing stacks of reports each month so you can get the information you need to make decisions?  Do you find out after the fact that something went wrong in your business and that if you had known about it sooner, you would have made different decisions?

If so, you might benefit from a special type of reporting called exception reporting.  Exception reporting highlights red flag areas that you need to take action on.  It contrasts with regular reporting, which lists lots of data that you may or may not need to take action on.

Here’s an example:  How often do you check your bank balance?  You probably check daily or even more, right?  Do you really need to?

Ask yourself when do you really need to know about your bank balance?  You need to know when it falls below a certain amount, or when you don’t have enough to cover imminent bills, right?  Why not stop checking your balance all the time and replace it with an alert that will send you an email under the conditions and criteria you set?  This will save you time.

Some exception reports are already built into some accounting systems.  A couple of good examples are the A/R aging report which shows past due invoices that have not been collected and the inventory re-order report that lists inventory items that reached their re-order points and need to be re-ordered.

There are many ideas to generate exception reports:

  • Missed and upcoming deadline tracking such as project due dates, tax forms due, and payroll due
  • Employees on vacation
  • Bills overdue
  • Expiration date tracking like end of lease and insurance policy renewal dates
  • Large variances in budget to actual reports

To take advantage of exception reporting, here are a few steps:

  1. Identify the reports you currently receive that you review but take no action no matter what.  Do you really need them?  If not, throw them out.  If so, ask yourself what trigger would have you taking action and change the regular report into an exception report that reports on that trigger.
  2. Think about what data you access all day that is not in a report or easy to use format.  Can you create an exception report or alert out of it and save yourself time?
  3. What information would you like to start receiving that you don’t have now?  It should be something that you would take action on if you knew about it.  Can you create an exception report for these new information needs?

Try exception reporting, or take it to the next level of implementation in your business, and watch your time free up and your management decisions sharpen.

Six Common Payroll Mistakes to Avoid

August 7, 2014 · Posted in Business Development, Management Tips · Comment 

Getting payroll done has gotten so much easier than it used to be for small business owners.  But there are still some minefields when it comes to state and federal compliance.  We’ll take a look at six of them in today’s article.

1.     Business or Personal?

A great admin might want to help you in any way they can, including personal errands.  But time spent having your admin fetch your dry cleaning and drug store prescriptions is not deductible as a business expense, even if it makes you more productive at work.

Be sure you separate your business payroll from personal payroll to avoid tangling with the IRS on this issue.

2.     New Hire Report

It’s not every day that a small business needs to hire additional help, and the New Hire Report is easy to overlook.  It’s due to your state within a certain number of days of your new employee’s hire date.  Some payroll companies will file it for you, and some won’t, so it’s best to check so that you don’t make the common mistake of forgetting to file this report.

3.     Worker’s Compensation

When you have employees, you need worker’s compensation.  When you bring on your first employee, you’ll need to overcome this learning curve of figuring out what you need.

Even if you’re a veteran employer, you may have coverage holes in your worker’s compensation coverage.   Do you have employees who work at home?  Are you sure they are covered?    In some states, employees have to be specifically named in the policy before they are covered to work at home.

Be sure you ask the right questions so there’s not a risky gap in this essential protection for employers.

4.     Posters

There are both state and federal notices that must be posted for employees to be able to read.  California is especially zealous and liberal about issuing fines (up to $17,000 per location) for employers that do not have their posters, well, posted on workplace walls.

5.     Employee versus Contractor

The proper classification of a worker as a W-2 employee or a 1099 contractor has long been an area of scrutiny for the IRS.  The IRS has rules as well as court cases that have established the guidelines that exist in this area.

If you classify a worker incorrectly as a contractor when they should be an employee, then you can be held liable for paying employment taxes on that contractor.

6.     Bonuses

Bonuses can often be a spur of the moment thing or something that’s done at the very end of the year when we’re occupied with the busy holiday bustle.  It can be easy to forget that the bonuses need to be run through payroll like all other wages so that the proper deductions and taxes can be calculated.

Use these six items as a checklist to avoid these common mistakes as well as reduce your business risk in the payroll compliance area.

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